TALLAHASSEE, FL (WCTV/CNN/Gray News) - The Tallahassee, FL, mayor says officers showed “compassion” during a traffic stop captured on cell phone video in which a toddler climbed out of a pickup truck with her hands up and then walked toward officers carrying rifles.
The incident occurred as Tallahassee police were arresting shoplifting suspects.
“She’s trying to get out but she can’t because she’s little,” said the person filming the video. “She is out. Oh, she’s holding her hands up. Oh my God, look at that. Oh my God.”
The video goes on.
“They’re still holding the gun at the baby," says one viewer. The other disputes. "No, they’re holding the gun at the car.”
The viewers couldn’t believe it as the toddler made her way to police with her hands in the air.
"Naw, they're not doing that little girl like that,” said a couple who saw the video. “She put her hands on the back of her head. Where are her parents?"
In a Facebook post Friday, the police department released body camera footage of the incident in which officers can be heard telling the girl that she’s OK and that she doesn’t need to have her hands up. They are directing her to walk toward her mother.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says the footage reveals officers showed “compassion... during an intense situation."
"I’m very proud of their actions and appreciative of the work these men and women do each day to keep our community safe,” he said, according to the Facebook post.
Police said they received a call that the suspected shoplifters had a gun.
The toddler’s parents were among the suspects, police told the Tallahassee Democrat. There was also an infant in the vehicle.
Police Spokesperson Damon Miller said officers had to approach the situation with caution.
"It's just for safety because we don't know who else is inside the vehicle,” Miller said. “If you look at the video, there are multiple people that actually did come outside of the vehicle. It's very important that our awareness is very heightened on a situation like that."
Tallahassee police said two people were arrested on petty theft charges.
Authorities say neither man had a gun, but a pellet gun was found in the backseat of the truck, according to the paper.
It is unclear if both the child’s parents were arrested.